Police probe into rail death couple

By Benedict O'ConnorA COUPLE who were under investigation for allegedly financing a horseracing and breeding operation on the proceeds of a £1million theft have both died after falling under a train.

By Benedict O'Connor

A COUPLE who were under investigation for allegedly financing a horseracing and breeding operation on the proceeds of a £1million theft have both died after falling under a train.

Henry Yearley, 62, and his wife, Anne, 56, died when they were hit by a high-speed train as it passed through ArleseyStation in Bedfordshire.

The childless couple had kept horses in training for the past decade with top Newmarket trainer, Michael Bell, and reared thoroughbreds at the nearby New England Stud, owned by Peter Stanley.


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Police were investigating the couple, who lived in Shillington in Bedfordshire, for allegedly siphoning off more than £1m from the BMW garage in Stevenage where Mr Yearley worked as an accountant.

A spokesman for Hertfordshire Police confirmed Mr Yearley had been charged with theft and false accounting, while his wife had been charged with theft and money laundering.

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Mr Yearley is thought to have earned £50,000 a year at the car dealership, but it would have cost more than £100,000 a year to finance their horseracing and breeding enterprise.

Mr Bell said the couple's world had collapsed after they had been arrested and charged in March and they had been heartbroken when their assets had been frozen and they had been forced to sell off all of their horses.

“Mrs Yearley particularly adored the horses. They didn't live in a lavish fashion, they didn't drive flash cars, they didn't go on flash holidays,” he added.

“If there was anything wrong with the horses, they had the best medical treatment possible - it was all for the benefit of the horses, they were effectively their children.

“It could have been self-funding as some of their good horses made money, but they insisted in keeping horses which were not financially viable - they wouldn't sell them.

“If you criticised their horses, they took it personally, they didn't keep their horses on a commercial basis.”

Mr Bell said the couple had had about 15 horses in training with him over the past 10 years and had had six thoroughbreds left when they had been forced to realise their assets earlier this year.

He added they had visited his Fitzroy House yard every weekend and had been kind to his staff.

“Their world had collapsed around them when they were forced to sell. There was no malice in them, they were lovely people and it came as a terrible shock when we heard what had happened - it's a terrible end,” said Mr Bell.

Mr Stanley, at whose stud the couple had kept six brood mares, added: “I felt sorry for them. They didn't have children and the horses took on ridiculous importance in their lives which led to these tragic circumstances.”

Mr Yearley's former work colleagues said he had had a reclusive nature and would not turn up at company events or Christmas parties.

Neighbours and residents in Shillington added the couple - who were killed instantly in Friday's incident - had been equally reclusive in their private lives.

Clive Fletcher of Specialist Cars, the company from which Mr Yearley was alleged to have stolen the money, said: “I was made aware of the tragic deaths of Mr and Mrs Yearley on Saturday and wish to express condolences to their families.

“I can also confirm that the company has been assisting Hertfordshire Police in an ongoing investigation into Mr Yearley's financial situation.”

A Hertfordshire police spokesman added: “The constabulary is aware of recent developments in relation to this case and to make any further comment at this stage would be inappropriate.”

benedict.o'connor@eadt.co.uk

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